For many people reading this the first thought that pops into their heads will be; what the hell is that? For others it will be an all too familiar state of affairs that seems to be spreading through the car world and it is a state of affairs that leaves people either apathetic or apoplectic. Personally I was aware this silly idea existed but it was only this week where it arrived at my house in two forms and my feelings following this close brush with synthetic engine noise are not good.
Dirty Little Secret?
The idea of augmenting engine noise and even faking it completely is not new and its not strictly a secret but nor is it something overtly public either, it is not something you see talked about on a flashy car advert and it’s oddly not at the top of the list when people review cars either. BMW, VW and others have all been messing around with this idea and now Ford claim their system will actually help lower emissions because people will back off the throttle when they hear lots of revs? What a ridiculous state of affairs that is! The idea you can trick people into driving more like my mother by blasting fake sounds into the cockpit is horrific, and sadly probably true for lots of people. For those of us who live for the sound of an engine it is almost insulting however, and it is not a road that will end in a happy place for us.
Close to Home
My first brush with synthetic engine noise was in an Audi S3 a friend’s new man popped over with recently. She rather enthusiastically told me about the fact it had special sounds that came through the cockpit. To be fair, its an amazing car an both the owner and other half were very happy so I am not here to spoil their party but inside I felt sad that car sounds had become such a disposable thing like so many recommended play lists on Spotify. It just didn’t make any sense, why would you be happy hearing a sound, no matter how good, if it wasn’t real? It’s like owning a fake Rolex…you will always know it’s fake and unless you are more interested in what other people think than what you think of yourself that it simply not acceptable.
Two in a Row
After the S3 experience I was then faced with a second round of this synthetic nonsense as Peugeot delivered the new 308 GTi for me to test over a week long period. I never read up too much about cars before testing so I have an open mind so I had no idea the car used this kind of tech. However, when I popped it in sport mode and booted it I was stunned at how good it sounded, but I could not accept that was the noise of a 1.6 straight 4 and it turns out I was right. I performed a very simple test; I drove at 4500 RPM in sport mode, held it there and turned it back to normal mode and the sound was so different it was almost funny. It went from an induction roar type growl to a revvy kind of tiny sound. The real sound is actually pretty good but in direct comparison to the big bore sound coming through the cabin in sport its just sounds silly.
Get Over It!
OK so the 308 GTi is actually rather good, in fact even after a day I think its probably brilliant but why oh why did they have to taint my experience with fake engine sounds in the cabin? It has immediately taken the shine off the car and I feel cheated. Do other people care about this? Should I shut up and get over it? The answer is probably no and yes in that order, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree. I was not overly aware of all this rubbish prior to the last couple of days and I should have been, but now I’m surrounded by it I am not going to suddenly like it, the car industry might feel like big brother but this is not new speak and I do remember how a car should sound and if the boot of synthetic engine noise is coming towards my face I will push it away with everything I have got!